Dragon Lady Pilot Honored

Photo by Andy Morataya

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz presented Lt. Col. Joseph Santucci the Koren Kolligian Jr. Trophy in ceremonies on 1 June 2010. Santucci, 99th Reconnaissance Squadron commander at Beale AFB, California, earned the service’s top flight safety award for safely recovering the U-2 he was flying during a training mission on 12 February 2009. When Santucci turned off his autopilot at 52,000 feet to begin his descent for landing, the aircraft pitched forward violently. Holding the control yoke tightly to his chest, he managed to keep the aircraft level. Under manual control, he began a slow descent and safely recovered the U-2. The annual award is named for Lt. Koren Kolligian Jr., an Air Force pilot declared missing when his T-33 trainer disappeared off California in 1955.